There’s a philosophical concept called the wheel of fortune. The concept is often associated with an ancient Roman named Boethius, a philosopher and Senator. The idea is that when you are traveling up the wheel, as all people do, your good fortune increases. But sooner or later, you need to go back down and you experience the opposite. Concepts of this occur in literature in placed like the works of Chaucer or, more recently, the novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, whose main character Ignatius J Reilly keeps referring to the wheel and Boethius to explain what he sees as the awful state of his life.
For our purposes, Titus Pullo is no longer the luckiest son of a bitch in Rome.
What happened to Pullo? Well, he killed a man in front of a witness. The man in question was a political enemy of Caesar’s, and a popular one at that, and Pullo is really just violent muscle for Erastes anyway these days. Seeing Pullo walking around with a listless look in his eyes considering his former boisterous personality really underlines how freakin’ good Ray Stevenson is in that role, too. As it is, killing a guy means Pullo is arrested and put on trial. He offers no defense, and nothing that would rouse pity in the crowd. He doesn’t even know who hired his boss. He wouldn’t say if he did.
As it is, this episode seems to revolve around people sticking to their ideals. Newly-elected Magistrate Vorenus is approached by an old member of his Legion to see if Caesar can give his veterans some of that farmland he promised them. Vorenus is sucked into political intrigue at a party at Atia’s house, and twice has to restrain his old comrades. See, giving them inferior land doesn’t make them feel better on the one hand, but on the other, there isn’t much for Caesar–newely named tyrant for life–to give, and Vorenus has to restrain the guys from rescuing Pullo too since if it looks like Caesar is helping a man who murdered an enemy, it looks like Caesar is totally just murdering his enemies. Is he? Well, what do you guys at home think?
Octavian would like to help Pullo, at least, by hiring a lawyer on the sly.
Most of that comes out at a party at Atia’s place where Vorenus and Niobe are invited. Niobe is nervous, and the pair split as soon as possible. Marc Antony makes up with Atia after a few slaps across the face. Caesar is still Caesar.
On the other hand, Brutus is being confronted by graffiti of him killing Caesar, and he keeps resisting the idea because he gave Caesar his word and his loyalty. Then Caesar asks him to go be governor in a far off provence and that sets Brutus off, because Caesar never asked him, he demanded of him.
I think we know how this will end. Servilia is pleased, to say the least.
But Vorenus won’t stay on the sidelines forever. Pullo is sentenced to death in the arena. At first, Pullo won’t even fight back against the gladiators sent to take him down. They apparently can’t kill him if he’s just sitting there, the lowest he’s ever been. Pullo actually made an offering to the gods before he went out there, even if it was a roach, and he’s never been all that religious. Then one of the gladiators starts taunting Pullo’s old Legion. And that’s when Pullo goes berserk and kills the three guys. Then the three guys after him. Maybe another three guys. I lost count. He’s screaming, “The THIRTEENTH!” and then out comes one last gladiator, who makes quick work of a tired Pullo, and the only thing keeping Pullo alive is Vorenus jumping in and rescuing him out of a sense of camaraderie for the old 13th Legion.
That’s one way to get the crowd on your side.